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La Y en El Yunque program trains 25 new entrepreneurs

The nonprofit incorporated professional practical experiences for the benefit of participants through collaborations with four allied organizations.

A group of 25 people has completed training to rejoin the labor market, launch new businesses and gain practical professional experience as part of Vitrina Solidaria’s “La Y en El Yunque” program, in collaboration with four organizations.

The fourth edition of the program has already produced business success stories and job opportunities in the field of sustainable economy, said Raquel Skerret-Escalera, executive director of Vitrina Solidaria.

“This time, we were able to incorporate the experiences of professional practices that were carried out with the allied organizations Para La Naturaleza, Finca Neo Jibairo, Movimiento para el Alcance de Vida Independiente and the Sor Isolina Ferré de Canóvanas Center,” she said.

“Our participants from the eastern region had the opportunity to develop skills related to their area of ​​​​specialty and establish meaningful connections with other professionals, being in a real work environment, which was very enriching,” she added.

Participants also received professional certifications in beekeeping, community recreational leader, Environmental Interpreter Guide (NAI, in Spanish), and introduction to photovoltaic solar energy systems. Additionally, they were trained in agroecology, outdoor recreation and sports.

“This program seeks to prepare participants with practical skills and specialized knowledge that will allow them to develop professionally and strengthen the country’s sustainable economy,” Skerret-Escalera said.

She added that some of the success stories include Lenna Garay-Rodríguez, who joined as a yoga instructor for boys and girls at the Casa Montessori Pequeñas Manos and incorporated her company specializing in trauma-sensitive yoga services.

Winifred Santana-Rivera completed the incorporation process of her company, El Huerto de Orlean, and has already begun offering garden workshops for public school students.

Jan C. Rolón, a participant in the outdoor recreation module, began an internship with the U.S. Forest Service to support different communication and recreation tasks in nature. 

Shalomir Gierbolini became an intern in a recreational company providing tour services in the El Yunque area, while Kyria Román is applying for artisan permits to expand her eco-friendly jewelry company. Amara Viera is processing permits to establish her food truck and incorporate recreational experiences into gastronomic tourism in the eastern region.

Skerret-Escalera also anticipated that a new brand of “sofrito” seasoning base created by participant Mitza Báez will soon hit the market.

“We’re excited to highlight the achievements of our graduates from ‘La Y en El Yunque’ and help them develop their careers or in their sustainable social endeavors,” she said.

The fourth cycle began in early October 2023 and ended in February. The fifth edition has already begun, with “high expectations for the new group of participants as new certifications were added,” said Skerret-Escalera.

The program is free thanks to funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program and a collaborative agreement with El Yunque National Forest.

Participants must be from the municipalities of Canóvanas, Río Grande, Ceiba, Luquillo, Fajardo, Naguabo, Humacao, Juncos, Las Piedras or Loíza.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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